Canada Remains Open to Students Worldwide Following U.S. Immigration Ban on Select Countries

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Universities and colleges voice their support for welcoming, open society in the wake of President Trump’s executive order to suspend immigration to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Many Canadian universities and colleges have made statements in response to the executive order, expressing concern for the immediate 90-day suspension on immigration to the US from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Universities Canada, an advocacy group for 97 Canadian universities, issued a statement on Sunday evening condemning the order. Many member universities have since issued statements supporting Universities Canada and echoing their concern.

“Canada’s universities are deeply concerned about a new executive order issued in the United States. . . The executive order restricting travel into the U.S. affects research partnerships, international studies, academic conference participation, field visits and in some cases family relationships of our university students, faculty and staff. The new order is having an impact on Canadian campuses and communities that is real, immediate and profound.” – Universities Canada

Universities and colleges across Canada have extensive internalisation programs to attract and retain international students. It is widely recognised that in addition to being talented and motivated, international students bring a different perspective and background to higher education classrooms that benefits all students. Moreover, Canadian universities and colleges attract faculty from around the world for the quality and reputation of research and teaching in the country. The more international a faculty, the more students benefit from a wide variety of expertise and context in their education.

Universities Reaffirm Commitment to Inclusion

Over the weekend, presidents and senior staff at many Canadian universities took to social media to express their support for their international community, and their concern over the executive order.

“The idea of targeting and restricting the travel of individuals on the basis of their nationality or birthplace is antithetical to everything we stand for as an institution and a country,” said University of Toronto president Meric Gertler. Approximately 17 percent of students at the University of Toronto are international students, and the university has extensive internalisation programs.

Memorial University of Newfoundland has waived application fees for students from the seven countries affected, and for students from the U.S. “Memorial University welcomes and supports students, faculty and researchers from all over the world who contribute knowledge and expertise locally, nationally and internationally. Our university community is stronger, more vibrant, innovative and progressive because of the diversity of the people who choose to engage in teaching, learning and research activities here,” reads a statement on their website.

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“Brock University remains committed to welcoming individuals from around the world,” said Tom Dunk, Provost and Vice-President Academic at Brock University in Ontario. “Fostering an inclusive, safe, and accessible environment across the Brock community is at the heart of our core values of the University.”

University of British Columbia president Santa J. Ono quickly established a task force to determine how the university could help those affected. “UBC strongly affirms that it will continue to welcome students, faculty and staff from around the world, including those seeking refuge from violence and hardship . . . UBC’s academic strength and stature depends upon the freedom of our faculty, staff and students to travel abroad for purposes of scholarship and study and upon our ability to welcome the most talented individuals from around the world to our campuses. Actions that restrict this movement based on a person’s nationality or birthplace go against our values as a university,” Ono said.

Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, which currently hosts approximately 450 students and staff from countries affected by the ban, issued a statement declaring, “The United States government’s executive order imposing a 90-day ban on individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries visiting the U.S. has generated fear and anxiety on the part of many members of our community, and has implications that are real and disturbing . . . We must provide comfort and support to these individuals, and do everything in our power to reaffirm our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Executive Order Affects International Community

In addition to causing potential travel disruptions for international students in Canada — who may need to transfer through American airports on their way to or from Canada — the ban also has an impact on academic activities for students, faculty, and staff. Academics working in Canada frequently collaborate with American institutions for conferences, lecture series, and research projects. The ban on immigration for citizens of certain majority-Muslim countries is expected to impact these activities directly.

American universities are advising students and staff from the seven countries affected by President Trump’s temporary ban on immigration not to leave the U.S., as many legal residents of the U.S. with citizenship of one of these seven countries may find themselves unable to re-enter the country. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, confirmed that the ban would not apply to Canadian dual citizens or permanent residents. Hussen stated his commitment to accommodating those travelers stranded in Canada, granting them temporary residency.

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A comparison between Canadian & American universities invites the bad & the good

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Comparing Canadian universities to America’s Ivy League institutions is like comparing apples and oranges — it’s an invalid comparison as well as unnecessary. 

When Justin Trudeau stopped in London, ON last week as part of his cross-country tour, he told a roomful of Western students that the school was the “Harvard of Canada”

And while he’s not the Prime Minister, Principal Daniel Woolf has been known to set Queen’s to the same standard. In a letter leaked in 2011 discussing the University’s reputation, Woolf wrote, “the distinctive small-town Ivy League experience of a Queen’s education … should be embraced.” 

The tendency to compare seems natural — we’re always comparing what we have in Canada to its American counterpart, from political leaders to healthcare systems, and even universities.  

In this case, though, American schools are on a completely different playing field than Canadian universities — and not necessarily a better one. Harvard and its Ivy League companions have a social elitism attached to them that stretches beyond the quality of education. 

It’s not always the degree itself that gets Harvard graduates a job when they leave — it’s the name. And while our system isn’t without its own elitism, the significance placed on reputation in the United States creates a difficulty in accessing these prestigious schools. The result is a hierarchical and exclusive system — one that maintains the status quo.  

Differences in funding also lessen the ability to make a valid comparison. U of T, the school with the highest endowment in Canada, hit 1.6 billion dollars in 2012 according to Maclean’s. Harvard, on the other hand, had 31 billion. 

Not only is the comparison an invalid one to make, but it may not carry the best connotations. Like Queen’s, Harvard made recent headlines for their lack of diversity, as well as their prevalent rape culture. Ivy League universities are often founded on tradition and it seems this same value can hold them back with institutions like often male-only and highly exclusive final clubs. In what sense then should we be proud to be like Harvard? 

Canadian universities that try to be like elite American schools may carry over more than just the good stuff — we’re associating ourselves with the negative aspects of these institutions as well.   

When we compare Canadian universities with glorified Ivy League schools, we shouldn’t be blinded to what the name connotes, but think critically about the role model we’re following. 

US college admissions weekly roundup (Oct 21, 2016)

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Highest Paying College Majors, College Ranking Lists Shift Focus to Outcomes

As seniors continue to work on their college applications, juniors are in the think of their college prep, too, wading through a wealth of information about where to apply, ROI, and more. This week saw a lot of higher education news focused on information that juniors will use to make college decisions in the coming months.more

Staying informed is key to a successful college admissions experience. The college admissions landscape is constantly changing, and at Planet EduTrain we aim to make keeping up with the latest higher education news easier by bringing you the most relevant articles every week.

Here are some of the top stories in higher education and college admissions news from this past week:

  1. A new report released by Glassdoor this week identified the 50 highest paying college majors based on data gathered by the site. STEM majors took most of the top spots, with computer science coming in at number one. Other high-paying majors include architecture, fashion design, marketing, and political science. Check out the full list here.
  2. With college costs rising, more families are concerned with the ROI of a college education. With shifting attitudes toward higher education as a training ground for future career success, more college rankings lists are focusing on outcomes, like post graduate salaries, to rate colleges.
  3. One of the biggest mistakes students make when applying to college? Not visiting before applying. Here are some other mistakes that college bound students should avoid.
  4. More and more colleges are becoming test-optional or test-flexible, but some still require applicants to submit SAT Subject Test scores. How do you know if taking SAT Subject Tests is right for you?
  5. Outcomes for college majors aren’t just about pay. It’s also about job satisfaction.
  6. We added some new counselor videos to our website this week! Check them out below!

What do you think of Glassdoor’s highest paying majors report? Are you focused on outcomes when building your balanced college list? Tell us in the comments below!

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is observed on October 17 each year since 1993. It promotes people’s awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution worldwide, particularly in developing countries.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is celebrated every year on October 17 throughout the world. It was officially recognised by the United Nations,[1] but the first commemoration of the event took place in Paris, France, in 1987 when 100,000 people gathered on the Human Rights and Liberties Plaza at the Trocadéro to honour victims of poverty, hunger, violence and fear. This call was made by Joseph Wresinski (1917–1988) founder of the International MovementATD Fourth World.

Various non-government organizations and community charities support the Day for the Eradication of Poverty by actively calling for country leaders and governments to make the fight against poverty a central part of foreign policy. Other activities may include signing “Call to action” petitions, organizing concerts and cultural events, and holding interfaith gatherings that may include a moment of silence.

The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to October 17, 1987. On that date, more than 100,000 people gathered in Paris, France, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. Since that moment, individuals and organizations worldwide observed October 17 as a day to renew their commitment in collaborating towards eradicating poverty. In December, 1992, the UN General Assembly officially declared October 17 as the date for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (resolution 47/196 of December 22, 1992).

In December 1995, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997–2006), following the Copenhagen Social Summit. At the Millennium Summit in 2000, world leaders committed themselves to cutting by half the number of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015.

This year, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty holds particular significance because it will be the first observance following the formal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Within this new development framework, designed to replace and carry forward the aims of the Millennium Development Goals, all countries committed to “ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions.”

One of the main aims of the day is to make the voice of the poor heard. To this end, commemorations often include testimonies from people living in poverty, describing their own experiences or those of people they know.

The role of young people in poverty reduction

Young people are seldom recognised as a resource in decision-making processes. Instead, young people are systematically excluded from important arenas of decision-making and development processes. As a result, their perspectives are often absent in policy- making. At the same time, many youth organisations remain drastically under-resourced and ill-equipped to participate in development processes and efforts. In particular this affects their participation in policy making and processes relating to Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). More…

Students often overlook community service as a way to explore their interests because they tend to have a one-dimensional view of what community service entails. If they’re not collecting cans at a food drive or serving dinner at a local homeless shelter, what other community service is there? In reality there are many opportunities for students to make an impact in their communities with service activities that allow them to explore their interests at the same time.

 

US college admissions weekly roundup (Oct 15, 2016)

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We’re halfway through October and early application deadlines are right around the corner! For students applying to college this fall, now is the time to get on track and stay informed on the latest college admissions news and developments.

During this time of year, there can be a number of unexpected events that affect the college admissions season. Problems with college application platforms, weather, and more can deeply impact the admissions process without warning. We work to stay on top of the latest admissions news and developments in order to keep college bound families informed every step of the way.

Here are some of the latest college admissions and higher education news stories from the past week.

  1. Some colleges are extending early application deadlines for students affected by Hurricane Matthew. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill announced this week that the early application deadline for students affected by the hurricane has been extended to October 23. The University of South Carolina has also extended its early deadline to October 23.
  2. The PSAT will be administered Oct. 19, and many students are preparing for the exam in an effort to gauge their readiness for the SAT and to qualify as a National Merit Scholar. What do you listen to and snack on when preparing for the PSAT? Kaplan’s survey found that most students like to listen to classical music while studying and snack on popcorn.
  3. Here’s US News & World Report about college expenses that many families forget to plan for. Read it here.
  4. Working on your college application essays? We spoke with students and gave some tips on how to write a great application essay.
  5. We contributed to a post recently, explaining why grades are the most important factor when applying to college.
  6. We can’t stress it enough: Keep your social media clean when applying to college this fall.
  7. Have you had the chance to read our October newsletter yet? In this month’s issue: Test Prep Tips for the Redesigned SAT, 10 College Application Essay Dos and Don’ts,
    Freshmen: Plant the Seeds for College Prep Now, and Education Expo Guide and Checklist.
  8. Some colleges recommend or require admissions interviews as part of the application process. If you’re doing an admissions interview here are some tips to help you ace it.

Are you working on your early applications? How are your essays coming along? Tell us in the comments below!

Crafting the Perfect College Application Essay

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10 tips from college admissions experts on how to write the best college application essay

The school year may have started only a couple months ago, but college application season is in full swing. If you’re planning to apply to college this year, now is the time to start narrowing down your choices and diving into those applications. Sure, your transcript, resume, and grades are all big parts of your applications, and show the hard work you’ve put in over the past few years. But, the essay portion of the application is also a key part of presenting yourself as a compelling candidate, so it’s important to put in the hard work now to make it the best you can. “Your essay reveals something important about you that your grades and test scores cannot: your personality,” Andrew Elwell, director of student communications at the College Board tells Teen Vogue. “Colleges want to hear about what’s important to you and how your experiences have shaped you as an individual.” It’s a daunting task, but one you can accomplish if you take your time, and put in the work. To help you along, we got 10 tips from experts that’ll help you craft your admission-winning essay.

Remember there is no one right way to write an essay.

College application essays are not formulaic. There’s no “intro, three paragraphs, conclusion” template to follow. And there’s no one way to go with the content, or the stories, you share. “There is a perception that students have to have a hardship story in order for their essays to be compelling, when really there is no one thing that is compelling, or any 10 or 20 things,” an expert, says. “What is compelling is showing the reader who you are and showcasing your writing abilities, no matter the topic.” So, before you even start writing, make sure you erase any mindset of what your essay should say or should look like, and go into it with the plan to make it your own.

Start Strong.

When it comes to personal essays, first impressions certainly count. You want to captivate the readers with your very first sentence. “Admissions counselors have to read a ton of essays and catching their eye with a good impression up front can be just as valuable as having great content in the body of your essay,” says Vinay Bhaskara, co-founder of CollegeVine. He suggests opening your essay with dialogue, an interesting story, or a shocking statement. Just make sure it’s true and appropriate!

Make it personal.

“The admissions essay is one of the only opportunities you have to speak to admissions in your own voice,” Stacey Brook, founder and chief advisor of College Essay Advisors, tells us. “So express yourself authentically.” Rather than try to right in some contrived, super-formal tone, crafting sentences peppered with fancy words you found on Thesaurus.com, Brook says to keep your writing conversational, while remaining polished. “Remember, the college essay is not an academic assignment and the writing style you use should be less formal than it would be in a research paper or persuasive essay,” she says.

And that goes for the content of the essay, too: It should be personal, and about you. You don’t have to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets, but go beyond surface level and share something that will give the admissions team an idea of who you really are. “One of the biggest mistakes students will make is that they try to write an essay that isn’t really about them,” Bhaskara says. “They might write an essay about an academic topic that thrills them or a person [who] influenced them. Those are themes that you can explore in the essay, but ultimately it has to be about you — about your own personality traits and feelings and motivations.” That doesn’t mean you can’t write about your relationship, or an experience, with someone else; just be sure to keep the ultimate focus on you.

Get creative.

Yes, applying to colleges is a serious endeavor. But that doesn’t mean you have to be super stiff and buttoned up in your essay. In fact, it’s better if you’re not. “Showing your creativity will not only help the readers learn more about you, but will also demonstrate how you think,” Elwell says. “That will help admission officers get a sense for your personality and how much of an asset you would be to their college or university.”

How you actually go about showing your creativity can vary. Ultimately, the most important thing is that your essay reflects your own personality. But, Brook notes, “branding yourself” is a great way to stand out. Think about what you can include in your essay that will stick in the admissions officers’ minds. “Is there a key detail or hook worth latching onto?” Brook asks. “What about the way you present yourself will burn itself into an admissions officer’s brain so that when it comes down to you and another similarly qualified candidate, he or she will hold up your application and say, ‘Take her!’ If a reader can summarize your essay in a single sentence or punchy description (‘The Ornithology Girl!’), you’ve probably set yourself up to make a lasting mark.”

And don’t be afraid to entertain, whether with humor or really interesting stories. Remember: the members of the admissions team reviewing your essay are human, and most humans enjoy being entertained. “The vast majority of the essays that land on an admissions officer’s desk are stone-cold boring,” Brook says. “No matter what your subject, your essay should aim to break through this fog and shine a bright light in the face of a fatigued admissions reader.”

Provide new information.

There’s no point in using your essay to simply regurgitate the information on your transcript or resume. Rather, use this opportunity to share another side of yourself, something the admissions officers won’t learn from looking at the rest of your application. “Consider this: What does the college know about you? What else would you like them to know? Think traits and characteristics, not accomplishments,” Kim Lifton, co-author of [How to Write an Effective College Application Essay], says. “Are you funny? Are you studious? Are you resourceful? You get to pick what you want them to know.”

Your essay can provide depth to your character that will make you a more memorable and more compelling candidate. “There is only so much that an application reader can deduce from a list of extracurricular activities, transcript, test scores, recommendation letters, and other application materials,” Cohen says. “Often, the best way to get a clear picture of a student’s goals, accomplishments, and character is to hear it directly from the student.”

Explain poor performance.

On the other side of the coin, if there is something on your transcript or resume that doesn’t look so great, this is your chance to provide some context. Don’t make your entire essay about one or two bad grades, but don’t be afraid to explain them if you can. “I once had a student who all but failed 10th grade, but had straight As every other year,” Sarah Seitz, founder of The Enrichery, says. “In her essay, she wrote about how her mother died of cancer when she was in 10th grade, and about how she suddenly became responsible for taking care of her younger siblings, as well as many other household chores. Not everyone will have such an airtight alibi, but either way, it’s important to give a brief explanation, and then spend most of your time focusing on all the things you did to solve the problem, the lessons you learned, or how you plan to handle stressful situations differently next time.”

Be specific.

This goes for any essay that asks you to share why exactly you want to attend that school. Don’t write one blanket essay and simply swap different school names in and out before you hit send. Make it clear you really care about the specific school you’re applying to. “It’s not enough to say, ‘I want to go to XX University because it’s a great school,’” Cohen says. “Colleges want to know that a student has done his or her homework on the institution and has thought about how he or she will fit into the campus community…Mention specific courses and/or professors of interest…Elaborate on campus organizations or programs that fit certain goals, and certain aspects of the campus community that make it a good social and academic fit. Admissions officers should be able to clearly see where a student might fit into the fabric of the community based on their answer to this question.”

Focus.

Chances are, most schools you’re applying to aren’t asking you for a 2,000-word essay, which means you have to narrow down the focus of your content. “One of the biggest mistakes applicants make is trying to fit too much into a 500-to-750 word essay,” Seitz says. “It’s not enough time to tell your whole life’s story, so the best thing to do is put a lot of thought into finding one specific topic you feel passionately about. Your essay should drive home one central point, so be sure to edit out anything that isn’t relevant to that point. If you try to tell an admissions officer everything, you’ll end up telling them nothing.”

Proofread.

After you spend so much time and energy writing your essay and telling your story, don’t slack off at the very end. Take that extra time to proofread when you’re done writing. “Students work so hard on their essays and applications, but admissions officers notice if you are using the wrong form of ‘their/there/they’re’ or if you are misusing punctuation,” Cohen says. “Don’t let that be the thing that hurts your chances of admission. After you’ve completed your essays, take a break and review it all over again with fresh eyes. Let your counselor at school or independent counselor do the same, and then [review] it again [yourself]. Thoroughness is important.”

Stop trying to write the perfect essay.

That said, be careful not to over-edit. “There comes a point when an essay has reached peak admissions-readiness, and continuing to tinker with your words beyond that juncture begins to interfere with your natural voice, giving your writing an overworked or flavorless feel,” Brook says. “Once you believe your essay is finished, put it away and look at it one or two more times, tops; then try not to touch it again. After all that hard work you put in, you don’t want to second-guess the personality out of your essay.”

 

Oxford University releases sample interview questions

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The ancient institution has released five sample questions designed to help demystify the interview process

In a valiant attempt to demystify the notorious University of Oxford interview, the top-ranking institution has released a set of sample questions on which prospective applicants – and everyone else – can test their rhetorical and intellectual skills.

It is part of a drive by Oxford to widen access to its colleges and dispel some of the myths surrounding applications at a university that interviews 10,000 young people for 3,500 places.

Some of the questions are deceptively short. “What makes a novel or a play political?” Helen Swift, associate professor of medieval French at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, asks modern languages candidates.

Others are best described as ambiguous: “What exactly do you think is involved in blaming someone?” is one for candidates for philosophy, politics and economics.

The sample mathematics question is posed by Rebecca Cotton-Barratt, of Christ Church. “Imagine a ladder leaning against a vertical wall with its feet on the ground. The middle rung of the ladder has been painted a different colour on the side, so that we can see it when we look at the ladder from the side on. What shape does that middle rung trace out as the ladder falls to the floor?”

Cotton-Barratt’s answer (yes, sample answers are included) mentions Pythagoras’ Theorem, a hypothesis, some equations, a right-angled triangle and sketching on whiteboards, though not necessarily in that order.

“This is a fun question,” says Cotton-Barratt, “because the answer is typically the opposite of what they expect because they think about the shape the ladder makes when it falls (which is a series of tangents to a curve centred away from the wall and the floor). A nice extension is what happens when we look at a point 1/3 or 2/3 up the ladder.”

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“This question is a great one,” says Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science and professor of mathematics at Oxford. “You want to see the mathematical mind at work, taking the question and finding what’s essential about the problem and working it into an equation.

“It’s fine to get stuck,” he says. “We all get stuck. What we want to see is how you respond to a prompt. We are trying to make it a level playing field whatever their background. We are trying to see the way that they think rather than what they know.”

Du Sautoy remembers vividly his own interview for a place to study at Wadham College. “I came from a comprehensive, so it was quite nerve-racking coming up to Oxford. I walked into this grand set of rooms and the tutor asked me, ‘Can you change my light bulb?’

“All I could think was, is this the beginning of a mathematical joke? ‘How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb?’ But his light bulb had blown and he wanted me to change it.” Du Sautoy, who got the top mark in the entrance exam that year, was duly given a place.

The sample questions – there are just five of them but they are genuine and have been posed by admissions tutors and answered with varying skill by prospective candidates in previous interview rounds – have been released just days before the 15 October deadline for applications for next year. There have been similar sample releases in previous years.

Every year approximately 10,000 applicants will be invited for interview in December; 3,500 of them will be offered places in mid-January, then they just have to get the required A-level grades (usually a combination of As and A*s) to secure their place.

Oxford is keen to remove some of the fear of the unknown which surrounds the interview, particularly for pupils from state schools that do not routinely send students to Oxford, where candidates are not as well drilled in Oxbridge interview techniques as their peers in the independent sector. Approximately six out of 10 who took up places this year were educated in the state sector.

Samina Khan, director of admissions and outreach at Oxford, said: “Interviews will be an entirely new experience for most students and we know many prospective applicants are already worried about being in an unfamiliar place and being questioned by people they have not met – so to help students to become familiar with the type of questions they might get asked we release these real examples.”

One earlier candidate for St Anne’s was former Conservative minister Edwina Currie who remembers being asked “Do you believe in anything absolute,” when she applied to study chemistry in 1964 (she subsequently switched to PPE). “I answered promptly, ‘No – except absolute zero, of course’. ”

Then – a slightly less challenging question – she was asked what she had done during half-term. “The other applicants had gone skiing, or stayed home swotting. My answer, in a Liverpool accent: ‘I organised a demo …’

“Liverpool city council was trying to close our grammar school and its venerable boys’ counterpart (Liverpool Institute) and merge them with Paddington Sec Mod to form a comprehensive. So I’d led 400 schoolgirls in uniform through the streets to present a petition to the town hall.”

Currie was offered a scholarship and the rest is history.

Source: Guardian